MANY RUNNERS LACE UP THEIR RUNNING SHOES AND HEAD OUT THE DOOR SAYING THEY DON'T HAVE TIME FOR A WARM UP BUT WARM UPS LET YOUR BODY GRADUALLY PREPARE FOR EXERCISE.
Warm ups are essential as they let your body gradually adjust and prepare for the harder work to come which will in turn make running easier. Warming up allows the heart and breathing rates to gradually make the transition from normal resting state to vigorous exercies, which will increase blood flow to the heart, bring oxygen and blood to the muscles and raise your body tempreture. The warm up improves your muscle efficiency, improves balance and co-ordination as well as enabling you to become more flexible. So a good warm up helps prevent muscle strains, as well as preventing the damage to muscles that can cause muscle soreness. All of this means you will recover more quickly from your running and your muscle tiredness will be reduced.
The cool down is equally as important as the warm up and it is very tempting to miss this as well as you head back through your front door to recover. Your body needs to cool down and recover so the cool down is the warm up in reverse and is just as important. If you stop running abruptly this may cause cramps, soreness, dizziness or an abnormal strain to your hears. So the purpose the of the cool down is to help your body return to it's pre-exercise state. Cooling down helps your heart rate and breathing return to normal and again will minimise the muscle soreness and tightness.
Here are two links to warm up, drills and cool down exercises to help you get into the habit