Rich Roll says he “unlocked a more authentic version of” himself by training for and competing in endurance events. It started with trying to get in shape by paying attention to his diet and his weight, and morphed into a love of the endurance world. He’s a top ironman triathlete, competes in ultraman events, and is the author of several books, including Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age. You can hear a brief interview he did with NPR’s Weekend Edition by clicking here.
He describes his journey as a spiritual one, but are the incredibly long hours of training the best way to achieve internal transformation? Critics of endurance events and training claim that the activities are self-centered and potentially damaging. It’s not uncommon for ultra endurance athletes to be told by some friends and families that they’ve lost their minds. Yet, the athletes themselves feel fulfilled in a way that they never have before.
I’ve competed in some endurance events (not ultras) and spoken to many, many athletes who are totally committed to the endeavor. There’s not a single, unifying reason why they do it. However, increasingly, people are looking for ways to distinguish themselves from the “average” person – as Roll says in his interview, to line-up next to some of the top elite athletes in the world.