How to Cope and Stay Motivated with a Postponed or Canceled Race

by Brittany Vocke

The most talked about subject in my world on Facebook and Instagram right now, besides Covid-19, is the postponement of IRONMAN and other sports competitions.  Every time I log on to those sites I immediately see a post about the uncertainty of an event. Most races through May, and even some into June, have already been postponed.  So how do we cope and stay motivated if our race is not taking place as originally planned?

At this point, I think of myself as a master when it comes to postponed/canceled/modified races. In my time racing half and full iron distance races, I have had 7 races postponed or modified. When this happened at the first few races, I would stress out hard. I would feverishly look on race websites, forums, and social media pages for any amount of information. The uncertainty of my race I had been training so hard for would consume me. It was unhealthy and I am happy to say I have a new perspective. I would like to share my way of dealing with the challenge of “race uncertainty”.

The first thing I do when I hear my race might be canceled is to take a few deep breaths.  I then look at the reason why the race might not happen. It has always been because of a natural disaster and in this case a pandemic. At that point, I have to realize the reasoning for postponement or canceling is far greater than the race itself. Communities are suffering for what has taken place and the health and safety of everyone is most important. So as much as I am bummed out my race will not happen as planned, I have to be unselfish and hope for the best for those affected. Luckily, most race directors will do everything they can to reschedule or give options to sign up for a different race.

So moving forward, what do I do to keep myself motivated and as excited as I was when signing up for the race? I start by looking at why I signed up in the first place. I encourage you to do the same. Did you sign up because you wanted to challenge yourself, live a healthier and active lifestyle, get a PR, or use it as a family vacation? Whatever the reason may be, look at it and think how you can transfer that motivation to the new race or date. 

Did you sign up to be more active and get healthier? 

If your race was postponed, you could think of it as an extension to be even more active and healthy. 

Did you sign up for a PR? 

You could think of it as more time to get stronger and have better results.  

Were you using this as a destination to vacation with your family?  

Well, if you need to change races, you can research and see what other cool places your family can explore.

Whatever your “why” is, hopefully, that will get the ball rolling to stay motivated, but now comes the training. It can be hard to get going when the wind has been knocked out of your sails. I like to start by meeting with my coach and restructuring my training plan to fit the new change. After we come up with a training outline, I like to set new goals. I will set new short term and long term goals to focus on. That will help give purpose and excitement to my new journey. After that, I always tell myself “Everything happens for a reason” and push on one day at a time as if this was the original plan all along.

If you are affected by a postponed race I hope these few strategies will help you.  It is OK to be upset but try as hard as possible to stay away from the negative. Try your best to look at the positives and good luck with your new race or race date!  


Brittany Vocke is a fulfillment specialist for WYN and MALO republic and is a former Division I Collegiate swimmer. She graduated with a B.S. in Exercise Science and is a former USA Swimming coach. She now coaches triathletes of all levels for Keep It Simple Coaching. She can be reached at

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