Perhaps a better question would be “should I strength train my legs to help my running?” Weight training implies use of machines or free weights while strength training could also include body resistance exercises, Pilates, Swiss ball exercises, plyometrics, hill repeats, etc. For this article, however, I will just address weight training.
In general, my answer to the question would be “yes”. I believe that weight training can be a big benefit to all runners. How can it help provide an advantage?
- A good, consistent, overall program can improve running posture and mechanics.
- Running speed is the result of stride frequency x stride length. Stride length can be improved through increased muscle strength and flexibility. Various “quick” or “explosive” lifts can also help improve stride frequency.
- An increase in strength can help improve joint stability and balance. This results in less “sinking” or “collapsing” with each ground contact.
- Stronger muscles are more efficient. Over the course of a long race, this can be a huge advantage.
- While this question concerned weight training for legs, a good program would also incorporate lifts that provide overall strength training improving core strength and posture. It is impossible to separate upper and lower body efficiency.