Rich Roll

The Physicians Committee
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Rich Roll

A graduate of Stanford University and Cornell Law School, Rich is a 45-year-old, world-renowned vegan ultraendurance athlete, wellness advocate, husband, father of four and inspiration to people worldwide as a transformative example of courageous and healthy living.

After succumbing to the sedentary throes of overweight middle age, at age 40, Rich made a decision to overhaul his life, adopting a plant-based diet and reinventing himself as an ultradistance endurance athlete. Just a few years later, Rich clocked top finishes at the Ultraman World Championships, a double Ironman-distance triathlon widely considered one of the most grueling endurance events on the planet, then cemented his place in the pantheon of endurance greats when he was the first of two people to complete EPIC5 – 5 Ironmans on five Hawaiian Islands in under a week.

Rich’s plant-fueled feats of boundary-pushing athleticism have been featured on CNN and in the pages of the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, Stanford Magazine, Men’s Health Living, VegNews, Triathlete, Outside, 3/GO Magazine, and Men’s Fitness Magazine, which named Rich as one of the “25 Fittest Men in the World.”

Rich’s new inspirational memoir Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself (Crown / Random House) is availalbe bookstores.

Rich currently lives in Malibu with his wife, four children, and two dogs. When he isn’t writing, practicing law, or spending time with his family, you can find him lost on the remote trails of the Santa Monica Mountains.

TIPS AND INSPIRATION

We are all natural born runners. It’s in our genes. So there is no need to overthink things too much. That said, here are a few tips that have proved instrumental in improving my own running:

  1. Invest in a Heart Rate Monitor: I resisted this advice forever. Now I can’t imagine training without one. Proper use of a heart rate monitor will help you establish certain intensity zones in your training which, when followed properly, can lead to quantum improvement. The vast majority of runners spend far too much time in the dreaded “gray zone”–running too hard to improve aerobic capacity (endurance), and yet too slow to build anaerobic capacity (speed/strength). The result is stunted improvement over the long-tem. Use the monitor to help establish your “zones” (there are many books and online resources on this subject), then tailor your training to the specific distances/races you are preparing for. In the end, you will train more efficiently, insulate against injury, and expedite improvement.
  2. Mix it Up: Another common pitfall is repeating the same workout, day in and day out. Thirty minutes on the treadmill or that same neighborhood loop over and over again. You get the idea. Instead, vary your routine to confuse the body and stimulate improvement. One day run longer than normal, but slower. On another day do a “tempo” run on flat terrain at a pace quicker than you are used to. Maybe throw in an interval workout on the track or some hill repeats on another day. And include a very slow “recovery run” at least once a week. The variation will keep you fresh and motivated and again help prevent plateaus in improvement.
  3. Don’t Be Afraid to Rest: For most people, running every day isn’t crucial. In fact, when I am training for an ultradistance triathlon, I almost never run two days in a row. So instead of lacing up every single day, break up your week by replacing one or two runs with something els –core/strength work in the gym, a bike ride, or yoga class. And it’s totally fine to take one day off of everything. I never miss a weekly rest day.
  4. Stay Healthy: It’s easy to run yourself ragged, which often leads to illness or injury and thus training time lost. Stay healthy by making sure you properly hydrate and refuel with nutrient-dense, plant-based sources of glycogen postworkout–things like brown rice, yams, quinoa, and lentils work well for me. And to avoid injury, I take the time to massage those sore muscles. Foam rollers when used consistently work wonders at preventing a myriad of common running injuries that can sideline you.
  5. Enjoy! Running is meant to be fun. Sure, getting in shape can be tough. But once you reach a base level of general running fitness and have a little momentum behind you, you may find–as I have–that running is just plain fun–something to look forward to rather than dread. Make it even more enjoyable by joining a local club or scheduling runs with friends. The social aspect will also create some additional accountability to help keep you on track.

RECIPES

Power Breakfast

1 cup quinoa
coconut, almond, or hemp milk
berries
hemp or Chia seeds

Boil 1 cup quinoa, drain, and cool. Place quinoa in bowl. Add coconut, almond, or hemp milk. Add berries of choice–I prefer blueberries. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon hemp seeds and/or chia seeds.

Raisin Hunza Healing Blend

Hunza raisins are a golden Himalayan raw food. They are very sweet. If you can't find them, you can use regular golden raisins.

1/2 cup raisins
2 cups raw coconut water
3 dates soaked and pitted
1 handful of almonds
Vanilla bean split
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon coridander

Blend in the Vitamix and drink!

Typical Postworkout Recovery Vitamix Blend

2-4 kale leaves
1/2 beet + beet greens
1 cup blueberries
2 cups coconut water
2 tablespoons pumpkin seed
1 tablespoon spirulina
1/2 scoop plant-based protein (Sunwarrior, Vega & Living Harvest all make good varieties)
1/2 tbsp coconut oil

Sprouted Lentils or Mung Beans

2 cups sprouted fresh lentils OR sprouted mung beans
2 carrots diced
1 celery stock with leaves chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 teaspoon or more celtic sea salt
1/2 teaspoon tumeric fresh grated or powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds or powder
1 tablespoon nama shoyu
4 cups filtered water

In a large pot, heat the olive oil and add the celery. Saute until the color brightens. Add the carrots and sauté again for five minutes. Add the fresh sprouted lentils or mung beans along with the remaining ingredients. Saute to coat. Add water and bring to a boil for five minutes. Reduce heat to simmer. When the water reduces down, adjust the spices to taste. Add a squeeze of half a small lemon and fresh cilantro just before serving.