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Running for His life

Mary Burich | December 31, 2018


For Erik Campbell, being well is all about him

Erik Campbell doesn’t consider himself a selfish person, but when it comes to his health and wellness, it’s all about him.

“I know I can’t rely on good luck and grace to take care of me,” he says. “And I want to be there for my kids, my wife and someday my grandkids.”

Erik is an avid runner who has completed five marathons, including one within a year of committing to the sport. “It was a mistake,” he laughs, “But I finished.” It didn’t dampen his spirits; Erik’s close to qualifying for the highly competitive Boston Marathon.

Joining Hormel Foods

He has a job that blends beautifully his professional life and personal passions, serving as a health compliance technician in the human resources department of Hormel Foods. Erik joined the company’s Austin (Minn.) location eight years ago after working in retail, banking and investments. He admits none of those industries ignited a spark for him. So, he turned his attention to an opportunity with Hormel Foods. Having grown up close to the Beloit (Wis.) Plant, Erik was well aware of the company’s reputation.

Suffice it to say, it was a good move.

“Everyone has days of driving home from work and feeling stressed. I haven’t had one of those days with Hormel Foods. That’s a great reflection on my job and the people I work with,” he says.

Erik’s role includes writing for the wellness team’s blog. Since it was unveiled in spring 2018, he has been the main contributor and now has about 200 followers. The goal is to make it a place for Hormel Foods team members to offer their stories and inspire others to make wellness a priority. And by wellness, Erik is quick to point out a myriad of topics – stress management, financial management, healthy eating, exercise, mental health, for example – contribute to one’s well-being.

“I want to share experiences. I could write a weekly blog all about me, but I don’t want to. During the next year, I intend to interview team members and share their stories. We can all learn from each other and grow together. Do you think you have a good story to tell? Let me know. I’d like to hear from you!,” Erik wrote in a recent posting.

Chasing The Runner’s High

He admits he’s not a wellness expert and not always on point when it comes to embracing a healthy lifestyle. “I’m sure I’ve missed an annual physical,” he says. But that’s what makes Erik so credible. He’s a real guy who’s married, has two teenagers, is rehabbing a 100-year-old home and is juggling the (mostly pleasant) demands of work and family. Running doesn’t add another item to his already fully to-do list. In fact, it makes the list surmountable.

He lives for “the runner’s high,” the phenomenon of peace and happiness brought about by the body’s release of endorphins – natural chemicals – that relieve pain and create a feeling of pleasure. “Running has become a way of life,” he says.

It wasn’t always like that, however. Erik took up running six years ago when he was in his 30s. It was an inauspicious beginning. He came home from work and decided to get some fresh air.

“It was a gorgeous spring day, and I just wanted to be outside,” he says.

Erik went for a short run. He made up his mind on the spot that he needed to do it more often, and so he has. In addition to running and competing in marathons, Erik has begun serving other runners as a pacer in races. “I commit to finishing at a certain time to help other runners pace themselves,” he says. He also offers advice and encouragement to them as they’re running.

Erik’s wife doesn’t share his passion for running, but his son recently joined his high school cross-country team. He’s enjoying the camaraderie, and he’s even starting to understand his dad a little better. “At least he doesn’t groan anymore when I talk about the importance of facing a challenge,” Erik says.

His advice to everyone? Find where your passion is. Figure out what suits your body and your needs.

“It’s about challenges, it’s about pushing yourself, it’s about seeing where you can go,” he says.

As he said in a recent blog posting, “We are all stories in the end. Just make it a good one.”