When the astronaut Neil Armstrong emerged from his spaceship following the historic moon landing, he was asked what he hoped would be the ultimate outcome of his epic journey. He flipped open the visor on his helmet, looked at the reporter and said: “It's my dream that one day, slightly overweight finance and media executives will think nothing of being able to run 5k in under 23 minutes". That, he said famously, is “what the moon is for”. This may be a partial reporting of the facts, but the gist of the issue is there. The billions of pounds spent on the space race had many trickle down effects. The internet, X-ray, MRI scans, each are worthy of a footnote, I’m sure. But at the Nuffield Health centre in the City, I got to see the real stuff: the “Anti Gravity” machine created by NASA scientists to help improve the exercise routines of astronauts.

The Standard Chartered Great City Race – my first 5k race – is now just weeks away and I’m in the final stages of my training programme. The machine effectively reduces my body weight, allowing me to train harder with less stress on my joints, in particular, my now increasingly painful shin splints. Paula Radcliffe has one of these at home to aid rehabilitation from injury. The other benefits include increased stride length and leg speed – speeding my leg rotation will be crucial if I’m serious about making meaningful progress.

After cooling down, it was time for some gait analysis to determine whether my current running shoes are up to the job (they aren’t).

There are basically four different grades of running shoe, from neutral to those offering substantial support. Runners both novice and experienced should focus on obtaining the correct grade shoe rather than just be led by the brand and design. And of course, get training in them rather than turn up to race in a spanking new pair.

The analysis revealed that my ankles roll in when I run, or pronate, which explains my shin splints and may cause knee problems later on. With the right shoes fitted, and with my space age training coming to an end, I’m finally ready to run. See you there.

If you’re not competing in the Standard Chartered Great City Race on Thursday 12 July, be sure to come along and show your support. It starts at 19.15. Details at: and you can also visit for more fitness and running tips.