When it comes to competing and winning at the XTERRA Planet Off-Road Triathlon or Trail Run Series — or succeeding at any other health and fitness goal—it takes a combination of the right equipment and the proper conditioning techniques.

At XTERRA Fitness, we're here to provide you with unrivaled training equipment — like the Trail Racer 6.6 folding treadmill or the Free Style 5.6e elliptical — but we're also here to offer a bit of information about how you can use it in a way that brings home the most effective workout possible.

Let's take a look at a few conditioning tips from XTERRA Planet training experts and XTERRA Planet Trail Run Series winners.

Building Endurance Little by Little

One mistake that a lot of new runners make is to try to bite off more than they can chew all at once. They imagine that they're supposed to be able to run some inordinate amount from the get-go, so they push themselves too hard and end up giving up running altogether when they find themselves suffering from fatigue, soreness, or joint pain.

Instead of trying to push yourself to the limits with every workout, hold back a little bit and allow yourself to go a bit longer and further with each passing week. By gradually building up to longer training times, you allow your body to adjust to the new strain.

Incline Repeats Build Strength and Power, and Burns Fat Faster

One of the best ways to build up your leg strength and increase your endurance is by building incline repeats into your workout. This can be achieved by running in short bursts up and down a hill, or by raising and lowering the incline level of your treadmill.

The more range of incline offered by your treadmill, the better. Start by running up a slight incline, and as you get more used to it, increase the level of incline slowly. When the treadmill is inclined, run as fast as you can in a one minute burst, then reduce the incline and jog for one minute to recover. Repeat.

This method will not only give you increased power and endurance – it also helps to burn fat at a much fast rate.

Know When to Take Breaks

It can be difficult to develop a solid training and workout habit, but once some people achieve it, they find that it can be just as difficult to force themselves to take a break.

Rest and recovering are just as important to conditioning as nutrition and exercise. If you're pushing yourself too hard, you aren't giving your muscles enough time to recover, which can actually lead to reduced strength. You also run the risk of injuring yourself.

To avoid burnout, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do I wake up feeling rested?
  • Do I have any persistent joint or muscle pain that doesn't subside?
  • Do my legs have spring to them when I run? (As opposed to feeling like lead weights.)
  • When was the last day I took off?
  • Is my body still responding to my workout?

If you analyze yourself and come to the conclusion that, yes, you are pushing things a little too hard, give yourself a couple of days off. Get a massage, do some yoga, or give yourself a chance to sleep in. If after a couple of days you're still not feeling at 100%, don't be afraid to give yourself a little more time off. It takes nearly two weeks of inactivity to lose your fitness edge.

The bottom line is that by giving yourself a little bit of time off, you avoid injuries that could force you to take a more considerable break.

So remember to take a breather now and again.