The answer to that question is yes. There are many benefits that come from resistance training. The type of training you do depends on what you are looking to get out of the workout regimen you are doing. Are you looking to improve your mile time or are you looking to put on muscle mass and see some muscular definition?
Endurance type athlete:
Lifting weights is still something that should be done. The type of resistance training you do here should be muscular endurance training. By strengthening your muscles so that you are able to perform multiple reps with little rest allows for lowered fatigability of your muscles. Increasing time to fatigue will make running easier because your muscles will be able to perform at a desired intensity for a longer period of time. It is also another way to add stress to your muscles and thus your bones without putting your joints through the same ranges of motions that you go through when running. This can help alleviate some stress added to joints and allow for proper rest at these joints.
Looking to build muscle:
Yes, this is the perfect scenario to follow a resistance training program. Depending on your training age and history with lifting weights, along with your goal will determine what training program you should follow. If you are a novice resistance trained individual than you will see results quickly upon following just about any training program. This is due to neurological adaptations that are occurring. The more advanced you are in resistance training the more thought out the program you follow needs to be. There needs to be progressive overload, programmed weight percentages of maximum and the proper rep scheme to allow you to reach your goal.
Outside of helping you reach your desired sport performance goals; resistance training can help you improve quality of life as you age. Sarcopenia is a typical ‘side effect’ of aging, and results in muscle loss. By performing resistance training exercises throughout the lifetime, you will slow the muscle loss due to aging. Another ‘side effect’ of aging is decreased bone mineral density. Once again resistance training to the rescue. Muscles originate and attach along various bones throughout the body. By training muscles and putting stress on muscles through resistance training you are putting stress on your bones. The added stress to bones, when done properly and with a knowledgeable strength coach/trainer, will make bones stronger and thus maintain a healthy bone mineral density. Another benefit of resistance training is the metabolic cost associated with it. When looking to lose weight, in particular burn fat, running is typically the first thought. This thought is true, running allows for fat to be ‘burned’ during the run itself, but once the run is over that ‘fat burn session’ ends as well. Resistance training on the other hand allows for ‘fat burn’ to occur well after the resistance training session has ended. When lifting weights, you are breaking down muscle tissue in order to build it back up into a larger and/or stronger tissue. This process is protein re-synthesis and can last up to 48 hours post resistance training bout (enter DOMS). The re-synthesis is intensity dependent. While your body is resynthesizing, it requires energy and thus has a metabolic cost, which in turn allows for ‘fat burn’ and consequently weight loss.
Basically, no matter what you want to do or what life-stage you are in, lifting weights is probably a good idea. Improve your runs= lift some weights. Grow muscles = lift weights. Slow some down side effects of aging= lift weights. Lose some weight/fat= lift weights. When done properly and following a well-designed program, lifting weights is always a good choice. Another thing to consider when lifting weights and seeing desired results is proper fueling, but that is a story for another time. So get out there and pick up some heavy(-ish) stuff : )