Grad student David McNeill running down answers

David McNeill

Even for a world-class runner, there’s a lot to learn about the AlterG anti-gravity treadmill, so David McNeill decided to make it the focus of his graduate research.

Now on the verge of a master’s degree in exercise physiology at Northern Arizona University, McNeill said he “can’t wait to present the final results” of a study involving who he calls “six of the best athletes in Flagstaff.”

That assessment is high praise coming from an Olympian with two NCAA championships who was named No. 10 on a list of “50 Greatest Male Athletes” in the Big Sky Conference.

“The data we were able to collect because of their unique abilities is pretty special,” McNeill said.

McNeill focused on the relationship between velocity and oxygen consumption at various levels of “unloading”—effort, essentially—on the AlterG, which allows runners to perform at less than their full bodyweight. The real question is just how fast they need to run.

“Can we simply plug in values to a single formula? It seems as though it might not be that simple,” McNeill said.

Much clearer is McNeill’s appreciation of his pursuit.

“It’s just been such a pleasure and thrill to be getting my master’s doing research into something that has been such a huge part of my life—running,” McNeill said. “From the athlete and researcher’s perspective, it’s exciting to be answering questions that could potentially help fellow athletes quantify how they train on the AlterG.”