Katie ATAS Cropped

Balancing sport and motherhood: Katie Clubb’s running journey

From injury to personal bests, Katie has shown grit and determination throughout her return to sport 

When a young Katie Clubb, nee Bristow from Shetland was convinced by three of her primary school classmates to join their team for the Scottish Primary Schools Cross Country Championships, she might not have imagined that 20 years, and a baby later, she’d still be going.

Now 30, we sat down with Katie to chat through her sporting journey and what it means to be both an athlete and a mum.

Where it all began

First lacing up her running shoes aged 11, Katie’s earliest memory of distance running was helping her primary school teammates to win the 2005 Scottish Primary Schools Cross Country Championships.

“That was an amazing experience for us. It felt a bit mad that a wee primary school in Shetland had taken that national title,” she told us.

After that competition, Katie continued to race throughout juniors and would regularly travel to compete in the north of Scotland.

“At my first ever nationals I came around 60th place and throughout U15s and U17s I was never medalling.”

It wasn’t until Katie reached U20s that she began medalling regularly across road, track, and cross country. Then at U23s, she was invited to represent Scotland in the cross country and again at senior level.

“I’m really proud of how I was able to persevere with my running. I think because I was never quite hitting those medals I was really motivated to keep going,” she said.

Katie shares her gratitude to the coaches she has been mentored by throughout the years expressing that she owes her love for the sport to Ian Williamson, who coached her as a junior and her current coach, Mike Johnston who has been with her since U20s.


More recently, Katie travelled down to the National Cross Country Relay Championships in October last year and won the bronze medal alongside her teammates at Cambuslang Harriers. An impressive effort for her first competition back since having her son Arthur, Katie said it felt great to be back competing and to medal was a bonus.

Katie joined the Cambuslang Harriers back when she attended University in Glasgow and has stuck with them ever since.

Now living back in Shetland, competing with her teammates requires Katie to travel to the mainland regularly. Thankfully, the support that Katie receives from the Athlete Travel Award Scheme helps to cover some of the travel costs.

“It’s a massive help and means that I can decide to enter a race fairly last minute and not have to worry about forking out,” she explained.

Navigating training after birth  

Competition has however been put on hold for Katie over the past few months due to injury. 10 weeks after her son Arthur was born in January 2022, Katie started to very steadily return to training.

“For a while, my sessions were literally 10 minutes of walking, 1-minute running and repeat. By the end of that year, I was still only doing a couple 30-minute runs a week and everything else was on the cross trainer or in the pool,” she explained.

It wasn’t until last spring that Katie was back to race-type sessions on the road, but her times quickly came on, running a 10k personal best on the road in August.

“It was really reassuring to see that I hadn’t lost it,” she said.

Shortly after however, Katie started feeling pain in her hip which was later diagnosed as a pelvic floor injury caused by childbirth.

“I just wish I’d given it a bit more thought when returning to training. Although I felt strong and I was hitting all the right times, my body just wasn’t quite ready,” Katie told us.

Whilst living in Shetland with no access to a women’s health physio has added challenges for Katie during this period, she feels lucky to have had regular communication and support from her coach in Glasgow as well as her best friend.

“I have been really lucky in terms of the people I have close to me. My best friend is a physio so has helped me loads.

“She works closely with an osteopath who has a real interest in women’s health too so the pair of them have been a great source of advice and support.”

Balancing motherhood and sport

Now in the full swing of rehab and on the road to recovery, we asked Katie what life is like as a new mum and how she balances motherhood with training.

She explained that one of the biggest adjustments she has had to make is going out in the little time she has, even if that means battling with nature.

“Being in Shetland I am so used to finding the weather window and choosing an hour when it isn’t gale-force winds. Now I just have to go whenever I can!”

Whilst getting back to running with a baby has required a lot of adjusting for Katie, she is hugely grateful to have a strong support system around her on the island.

“My family are always there to step in when I need an extra pair of hands. It would definitely be a lot harder to keep training and competing if I didn’t have them,” she said.

2-year-old Arthur is also a source of motivation for Katie. Sharing how much she loves seeing Arthur getting excited when his mum is back from a run or watching her race, Katie tells us that he will shout ‘Mummy runs there’ when they walk past the racing track.

“I’m really proud of the fact that he is growing up in a home where sport and health are prioritised and myself and my husband are good role models - that really keeps me going.”

Future hopes

Looking to the year ahead, Katie is working towards a full recovery and qualifying times for the Orkney Island Games in 2025. With the games taking place so close to home and 10 years since she last competed in Jersey 2015, Katie explained that it would be a particularly special event for her.

A previous games medallist, Katie says that there will be a bit of pressure on her and although she will be in good stead for a medal, she is also a very different athlete now, 10 years on. 

“I need to keep reminding myself that I’m a mum now and that I’m doing this because I love it. If I can get to the starting line in Orkney, which is so close to home, alongside other amazing athletes and have Arthur there shouting ‘go mam’, that will be more than enough for me.”

Find out more

  • The sportscotland Athlete Travel Award Scheme (ATAS) supports travel costs for Highland and island competitors to help talented athletes from the Outer Hebrides, Orkney, Shetland and Highland to gain better access to competitive and developmental opportunities available on the mainland. Successful applicants benefit from up to £1,500 to support travel and accommodation costs in attending training and competitions.
  • To find out more about the ATAS fund across the Highlands and Islands, visit: Athlete Travel Award Scheme (ATAS) - sportscotland the national agency for sport in Scotland

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