Oak Ridge grad preparing for next step

By: Matt Long
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Having four solid years of cross country and track and field seasons at Oak Ridge High, Amjed Aboukhadijeh is ready to move on. Aboukhadijeh (pronounced A-BOOK-a-dee-jay) graduated from Oak Ridge in the spring and is training for the fall when he will be attending UCLA on a partial athletic scholarship and will be participating on the cross country, indoor track and track and field teams. In June, his training program from his collegiate coach said to run when you want to and enjoy the sport. This month, however, Aboukhadijeh, 18, has picked up the pace quite a bit. He’s currently running 10 to 12 miles every day, averaging about 70 miles a week. Two or three of the weekly runs are completed at a faster pace, where he and some of his former Oak Ridge teammates will finish in about an hour to an hour and two minutes. On the “slow” days, Aboukhadijeh will finish his runs about eight minutes slower. “It doesn’t sound like much, but you can feel the difference,” Aboukhadijeh said. By the end of the summer, Aboukhadijeh said he will be running about 80 miles per week. Within his training schedule, Aboukhadijeh also finds time to compete in some local races. The Running of the Bullipedes, a one-mile race where a group of five runners are tied together, is held to kickoff the annual Folsom Pro Rodeo. Aboukhadijeh competed in that race with high school mates Clay McNamee, Dusty Armstrong, Zach Speno and Benji Xie and finished first. Four days later Aboukhadijeh ran in the Sacramento Fourth of July Five Mile Run and finished second with a time of 26 minutes, 2, seconds. Not only does Aboukhadijeh excel at distance running, but he obviously enjoys it as well. He knows he won’t get any better by sitting on the couch. “There are no secrets in distance training,” Aboukhadijeh said. “The more you run the better you’re going to be.”