California attorney Loren Zitomersky plans to run Monday’s Boston Marathon — all 26.2 miles of it — backward.
He’s done this sort of thing before. In fact, he qualified for Boston at the Los Angeles Marathon, which he also ran facing the wrong way.
His original goal was to raise money and awareness about epilepsy — a neurological disorder that claimed the life of his brother, Brian. But he discovered something along the way: Not only is running backward physically and mentally more taxing than conventional running, but the body uses more muscle groups and, studies have shown, burns 20 to 30 percent more calories.
Plus, it added a new challenge to his training that excited him. “Unlike running forward, you can’t sort of zone out,” he said. “You have to be really self-aware.”
Adding innovative twists is a great way to renew your motivation for workouts that have grown stale. Melissa Perlman experienced this firsthand. A former collegiate runner and high school cross-country and track coach in Boca Raton, Fla., she lost her interest in training runs. She often had to “drag myself outside to do solo runs.”
Then she came up with several creative tips for exercise enthusiasts to reignite their motivation to sweat:
Make social media part of your workouts. “I post a lot on my Instagram page,” Perlman said. “I like sharing with my friends what I’m up to, where I am running, and sometimes how far or fast I’ve gone. I take pictures of the sights, or I take selfies of me and my running partners. It keeps it fun, and it gets others involved.”
Give your training session a “theme.” “On International Women’s Day, I wore Wonder Woman socks, and during a Christmas run, I wore a headband with bells,” she said.
Treat yourself to cool-looking gear. New shoes, shorts, tops, accessories — who doesn’t enjoy looking sharp while running or working out?
Vary your environment. If you’re a runner, take different routes or maybe drive somewhere new for a change of pace. For strength training, join a gym that has multiple locations. Or ask for temporary trial memberships at gyms you’ve never visited before.
And try to always vary your workout. Routines lead to ruts.
Create goals. The old saying “that which gets measured gets improved” applies here. Have some specific, measurable short- and long-term goals.
Embrace the group dynamic. If you’re social and enjoy meeting new people, exercise — no matter the activity — is a great way to do it. Or, if you’re the type who needs extra motivation to get moving, the energy of the group could be just the push you need. Either way, group fitness classes have never been more fun or popular, so consider giving them a try.
Said Perlman, “I’ve learned that the two most important ingredients in staying motivated to train are to make the activity fun and social. When you have those components, you can achieve anything.”