Before you set out on the XC course, how well do you know it? Really really really well, should be the answer!
Try to get 5-10 minutes alone (locked in the loo if necessary!) to run through the whole course, without having to refer to the course map or pictures at all.
Could you talk someone through it, fence by fence, including details about terrain, turns, striding, where you intend to start setting up for every fence, and where and at what speed you intend to jump each fence and why, without missing a beat?
This is how well you need to know it, so that you don’t miss any lines or come into any fences at a totally inappropriate speed because you forgot that that particular fence was there… don’t forget that you’ll be riding it at about 10 times the speed you walked it! Pay particular attention to paths through woods etc, which ones to take, it is VERY easy to get this wrong at speed, as lots of us will testify.
As I’m walking the course I learn each fence as I go and recite the whole course in my head up to and including every additional fence, all the way around, in a sort of bizarre version of the “I went to market and I bought” children’s game. It works!
Photo by Katie Mortimore