Book Review: Finding Ultra

I recently had the opportunity to check out a copy of Finding Ultra, a soon-to-be released memoir from ultra-athlete Rich Roll. If you're not familiar with Rich (I wasn't, prior to the reading) he successfully completed the Ultraman a few years back (which makes Ironman look like a warm-up), and followed that up by completing 5 Ironman courses over 7 days. So to call him extreme would be to put it mildly.

Because the canon of literature on ultra-distance athletics is so slim, it makes sense for you to check out the book. As someone doing my second 50 mile race later this year, I find it's always good to see people who are well beyond where I am in terms of stupidity and perseverance, and Rich is firmly in that category.

The book isn't flawless; it's so rare that a book like Born to Run or Strides comes out, and this book won't be compared to either. But if it's a lifestyle that you're curious about, it will do more than satisfy you.

As someone who tends to follow the Ben Franklin philosophy of life: "In all things, moderation," I struggle a bit with books about guys like Rich who've gone from addict to athlete and in doing so haven't seemed to do much but switch an unhealthy addiction for a healthy one, but that's my gripe and it may not be yours.' You might easily find it a to be a story of redemption, and that's great, too.

Oddly, the part I expected to like the least of the book was the one I enjoyed the most. A large chunk (at least a quarter) of the book is focused on Rich's plant-based diet; how he came to eat what he does and how he manages to do it. Though my own diet is light years from this, now, I find myself more curious about these options as options for holding back Father Time. I'm looking forward to reading Scott Jurek's forthcoming book for the same reason and Finding Ultra included lots of how-to from a diet perspective.

In the end, I'd recommend Finding Ultra to any endurance athlete, particularly those seeking an edge via nutrition. I find it unlikely this book will change your life, but much more likely that it could change your diet, and if Rich's claims are true, that could very well be the same thing.


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