If you are diehard outdoor headphone wearer, you should probably stop reading now. If you value your life, read on. I’m not going to sugar coat this: It is dumb and irresponsible to wear headphones while running, biking, skiing, etc. outdoors (in my humble opinion). On the trails, on the roads, I don’t care where you are: There are many compelling reasons not to wear headphones. And zero compelling reasons to wear them. Again, IMHO.

I realize that headphones are prolific in sport these days and that I am likely in the minority. But if I can change one mind, this will be worth it.

I am sure most of you heard about the trail runner in Colorado who successfully fought off and killed a young mountain lion a couple weeks ago. I heard him interviewed this morning and the line that struck me was when he said he had decided that morning to leave his headphones behind and that had likely saved his life because he heard the mountain lion before it was able to attack him from behind.

I’m sorry, do you need more reasons?

If it is not a mountain lion it might be a car. Or a train. Or a moose. Or an out of control mountain biker. Crazy stalker? Rabid coyote? You just never know. It is always better to be aware of your surroundings. This is impossible with headphones.

If you can’t take those headphones off for your own safety, think about how you affect other people out there. I can’t tell you the number of times I have come up behind a person (or group) with headphones in, who cannot hear me to let me pass. I remember one woman with headphones on who was hiking when I came up behind her on my bike. I was ringing my bell over and over, yelling “on your left”. Nothing. I slowed down and was right behind her, but she had no clue I was there. Finally, I passed her slowly and she almost had a heart attack and yelled at ME for not giving her warning. Seriously? I didn’t bother stopping to tell her off. She wouldn’t have heard me anyway.

I often hear people say that it is just TOO BORING to be out running or biking without their music. Boring??! Open your eyes and your ears people! Our world is fascinating. I don’t care if you are in the wilderness or in the city, the world is alive, just waiting for you! Maybe I’m weird but I think if you take the time to appreciate being out there, you won’t be bored.

Being outdoors is also therapeutic. Spend the time in your own head, you will be amazed at what you think of out there. Or clear your head and use it as meditation.

If you are a headphone wearer, all I ask is that you give it a try being outdoors without headphones. You might surprise yourself and actually enjoy it. And if not, well at least you tried. And if you continue wearing headphones, I do sincerely hope you don’t get eaten by a mountain lion or run over by a texting driver.

But if you do, well, I told you so.