Strength training has many benefits for runners like improved running performance, reduced risk of injuries and better health. There are many ways to get stronger and reap all of the benefits, however, not all strength training is created equal. What methods of strength training you choose will depend on your goals, lifestyle, preferences and the amount of time you can dedicate to it.
To help you decide which one is right for you, I decide to present you the IDEAL, OK and POOR choices when it comes to strength training.
IDEAL - properly individualized and periodized strength training that takes into account your goals, preferences, weaknesses and goal race date. The focus is on developing running-specific strength and power that will allow you to be the best runner that you can be.
OK - this can include any strength training that has no clear structure, vision, and planning. Every session you are doing different exercises using random weights, set and rep schemes. While this isn't bad also it won't help you get the most out of your sessions to improve strength/ability.
POOR - using a cookie cutter and group-based programs like P90x, Body Pump, most boot camp workouts. This is a better option than giving up on strength training completely, but benefits to your running performance and injury prevention will be limited. In fact, some of these programs might do more harm than good if the intensity is not adjusted properly.
Another common thing I see runners do is using yoga and pilates as a substitute for strength training. Yoga and pilates classes can be a great addition to your strength training program if your goal is to improve flexibility and core strength. However, they alone cannot provide strong enough signal to your body to get stronger and improve the physical qualities necessary for top performance.