Up your game
Physically. Ensure you're in peak physical shape by working out at least three times a week. Workouts to build endurance should be 10-15% longer than you expect to spend out on a course. f you want to improve your speed, you need to train harder. Consider intervals, hill repeats, and tempo runs to push you outside of your comfort zone. Orienteering is an interval sport. Plan your route run hard along a handrail or between features, and then slow down to conduct fine navigation.
Mentally. The more you can get on a map, the better. Orienteering is the thinking sport; if you tune out, you'll get lost! Focus on navigation skills is just as important as your physical fitness, and an easy way to trim how long you spend on a course.
Although these books by published by Orienteering Ontario in the mid-1980s are outdated in some ways (80s fashion anyone?) they are still used around the world to teach orienteering concepts. Thanks to authors Ron Lowry and Ken Sidney for allowing us to share them here.
Check out these free resources and guides from the O-Store.
Learn to read maps: To improve your map reading skills, download these symbol guides and control description guides from Maprunner.
From other orienteers:
Find a club: The best way to improve your orienteering skills is to connect with other orienteers and to practice and learn from others (check here for clubs in Ontario).
Connect online from anywhere: Connecting with and learning from others plays a fundamental role in developing your skills. Attackpoint is an online community of athletes of all abilities; on this site you can log your training, your race results, learn about races in your area and participate in discussions of issues in the sport.