I do a bit of weight training (machines not free weights).I had a problem with the strength in my left leg the year before last which showed up by a severe pain in the knee while running. I couldn't get into the exercises that the physio gave me so when I was at the gym I got one of the instructors to set me up with a programme to strengthen my leg. I've since changed it to one that is designed to strengthen my core. I'm not sure how much of an impact it had on my running as I spent the early part of last year training with colleagues and that had more of an impact on my speed. I do know that it helped with my cycling as on one of the first times out on the bike I found myself going very easily up a hill that I normally struggled with.
Don Finks book "Be Iron Fit" also has a section about strength training in it.
Noakes' 'Lore of Running' recommends using a cable machine for various exercises to strengthen adductors / abductors / flexors. Many coaches regard the book as one of the finest of its type...
I agree, though, in much of what you're saying. Operating a machine isn't functional to running, and may create imbalances due to focussing on specific groups which could over-power others.
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