Jennifer Taylor

Jennifer Taylor is all smiles after running a race. 

Jennifer Taylor, 44, was a smoker of 22 years before she became an avid runner.

Running wasn't always her thing; in fact, she used to dread it. 

“I hated running,” the Ontario resident said. “I just, ugh. Hated it.”

But when she started losing a little weight, she realized how much better she started feeling.

“Once I lost the first 10 pounds I was like, ‘Wait a minute, I’m a little bit more comfortable,’” she said.

She started counting calories to aid in her weight loss.

“Then decided I would lose more weight if I exercised, so I started walking,” she said. “I was up to walking 5 to 10 miles a day. Then I decided I wanted to start running.

“I quit smoking in order to start running.”

It took her about five weeks to give up smoking. She used Chantix to help her stop.

Asked if it was challenging to quit, she replied, “No, because I wanted to run so bad.”

Taylor said she eased into running by doing intervals of running and walking, alternating back and forth.

“I would jog a little bit then walk for a long time, but then the more I did it, and I did it every day, the longer that I could run over a period of time,” she said.

Her commitment to running started about seven years ago. Initially, she’d typically hit anywhere between three and five miles. In that first year she lost 105 pounds.

About four years ago she ran her first half marathon (13.1 miles), the Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati. She said her running buddies, Amy Browning and Kathy Walter, talked her into it.

Then about two years later, she completed her first 50K (31.1 miles) ultra marathon, Canal Fulton’s Eagle Up Ultra.

“My friends signed up for it, and friends don’t let friends do stupid things alone, so I went along with it,” she said.

Asked how it went, she said with a laugh, “I finished.”

Now she’s set a new goal for herself: run a race (ideally 8K and above) in every state in the continental U.S.

“If I find a race in a state I want to run, that’s what I’m going to do,” she said.

Since February, she’s crossed two states off her list. She has seven states lined up this year.

“I hope to finish this before I retire,” the police dispatcher said. “Hopefully I’ll retire within the next 10 years.”

To anyone second-guessing whether or not they can adopt healthier lifestyle changes, Taylor is here to squash that doubt. 

“I just think anybody can do it. Anybody that wants to do it can do it,” she said. “Once you set your mind to something, you’re going to do it.”

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Thrive Reporter

Thrive reporter. Graduate of Ontario High School and Ohio State Mansfield. Wife. Mom. Dog lover. Fitness enthusiast. Plant collector. Mac and cheese consumer.