Matthew Lefave has always considered himself to be more of a recreational CrossFitter than a Games competitor. It wasn’t until February of this year, when he opened Reebok CrossFit Liberty Village with Nic Martin and Jordan Symonds, Lefave got serious about competing in the CrossFit Games.
“While I did decide in the last year that I’d like to be at the Games, I’ve always sort of done it recreationally,” Lefave says. “I just wanted to get that burn, work hard and get out whatever needed to get out, so to speak.”
However, the recreational CrossFitter is headed to Carson, Calif.
“I’m actually training CrossFit,” Lefave says about the change in his regimen since deciding to aim for the Games.
Before, he was training what he refers to as CrossFit-esque. He was limited by the inability to drop weights or do workouts in the globo gym where he trained.
“When we opened our gym, I set the goal,” he says. “I thought the Games were a long shot, but not impossible, and decided to train properly.”
Prior to Regionals, Lefave enlisted Martin as his coach. He went into the Canada East Regional with a plan for each event. He had decided on a pace in advance, including when to break.
The first event, however, did not go according to that plan. Lefave struggled badly with the handstand push-ups in Diane. He failed to make it to the round of nines, and finished the event in 38th place.
Lefave managed to put the first event behind him, and executed the remainder of his plan exactly as intended, accumulating a first, a second and three third-place finishes, narrowly winning a tie breaker with Jeff Larsh for second place overall.
Lefave recalls being confident he could make up the difference. “Jeff is a much, much better Olympic lifter than I am,” he says. “But I matched my PR, so I couldn’t have asked any better of myself, and when Jeff missed the snatch at my weight, I thought, ‘This is actually going to happen.’”
Lefave’s approach since Regionals is somewhat atypical. He’s training less. “I understand that some Games athletes have trained to peak at the Games because they expected to be there. That was not me,” he says. “I was crushing myself to prepare for Regionals.”
Lefave’s pre-Regional pace took its toll physically. Now, Lefave is focusing on his mental game. “I’ve decided to go back to basics, enjoy myself and back off of extremely heavy loads,” he says.
Lefave's plan is to enter the Games weekend feeling confident. “I’m stepping the weights back and doing workouts that I know I can do well at, putting myself in a position to feel ‘Wow, that felt good,’ rather than ‘Wow, I just got completely crushed,’” he says. “I need the confidence that crushing a WOD can bring. I think volume is important, but doing high volume with heavy loads every workout, which is what I was doing before Regionals, takes its toll.”
Like many other Games athletes, Lefave is also attempting to prepare for the unknowable by adding things like swimming to his program. He made reference to the possibility of a surprise track and field event. “Shot put,” he says. “If they did shot put, I might win.”
Lefave is thrilled to have qualified for the Games this year. “I’m excited to be part of it, to meet the people there and just come away with a great experience, great memories and just a wealth of knowledge.”