Charlie's Blog: PRINT--Finding Ultra by Rich Roll


PRINT--Finding Ultra by Rich Roll

At that moment, I honestly didn’t believe that I was physically or mentally able to run a marathon. But the only way out was through.

When you see a picture of Rich Roll for the first time or see him in ridiculously good shape like on the cover of Finding Ultra, you might be lead to believe that this is a guy who has it all figured out. Then, you begin to read the book, and you learn that Rich Roll is a man that survived a train wreck of a life. What seems like a book about self-improvement is actually a book about escaping self-destruction.

Rich Roll has a messy biography. He showed early promise in life when he excelled academically and athletically in high school. Yet, even that has the glaring flaw as Rich was one of those guys cursed with a lazy eye. You can see it today in some of his pictures that Rich's eyes don't quite line up. It's not a big deal, but that flaw humanizes Rich. You end up liking the guy because he is an underdog in life.

Rich's life was doing well when he went off to Stanford to study and swim. He had excellent grades and was phenomenal in the pool. But then, he started drinking, and this drinking would be his undoing. He would go on to law school and begin a legal career, but the drinking would demonize him along the way. He wrecked his car while driving under the influence. Finally, he was the subject of an intervention from a workplace that was way more understanding than they had to be. Rich would go on to rehab and dry out and sober up.

The 12-Step world is one that continues to inform Rich to this day. If you listen to his podcasts, many of his guests had their own substance abuse problems, and Rich talks to them in a way that hosts who never struggled with these issues probably couldn't. Once again, this humanizes Rich. You like the guy, and you root for him.

Rich would have a failed relationship that ended in a very short lived marriage. But this worked to the good for Rich as he would meet Julie Piatt who deserves a large share of the credit for helping Rich radically improve his life. She didn't preach at him, but she would prove instrumental in helping Rich become healthier and happier.

Rich overcame drinking, but he was a fat slob eating hamburgers and living a sedentary lifestyle. His come to Jesus moment was when he became winded trying to climb a flight of stairs. He was 39. He knew he needed to change, so Julie put him on a juice detox cleanse that dramatically improved his health. Feeling great, Rich became a vegan and remains one to this day. This is why I wanted to read his book because I find inspiration from people living a plant based lifestyle.

Rich found a lot of energy from going vegan, so he put that energy into athletic endeavors. He became a triathlete and has completed the Ultraman triathlon and an ad hoc event called EPIC5 that is basically 5 Ironman triathlons back-to-back. The bottom line is that Rich Roll is incredibly fit at an age when most men prefer the golf course to swimming laps in the pool or doing century rides on the bike.

I enjoyed this book until I got to the back part which is very wonky stuff concerning diet and training. I recommend the book for inspiration if you are someone who really wants to change your life. I also suggest that you listen in to Rich's podcasts at They are some of my favorite listening.