First, some background: I've been doing the elliptical for awhile - I can jump on it and start moving without much thought. But today was different. For some reason, I can't even explain it, except to say I had stopped pedaling for a moment to re-clip my iPhone back onto my hip and then it happened....I just started pedaling backwards.
It was hard, I'm not sure why. I had to really concentrate on it - it felt awkward, I couldn't go as fast, I'm pretty sure I was using different muscles and when I added my arms back in, I felt like I was going to lose my balance and fall off. Other than that, it felt perfectly normal.
Amazing how one small change can feel so differently. Kind of like job searching: instead of going to your job, how different does it feel to be looking for a job? Pretty different. And your experience is likely the same as what I just described: you have to concentrate, it feels awkward, the process doesn't go as fast as you want, you're definitely using new muscles and it makes you lose your balance.
So don't be afraid of pedaling backwards. I'm fairly sure I felt the same way when I first started on the elliptical - pedaling forward. And you likely felt the same way when you first started going to your last job. Embrace backwards.