Post-chase fatigue

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B. Dean Berry

Moderator
May 25, 2014
270
72
11
I ran into something rather unique after a successful intercept in Shelby Ohio on Sunday. I am simply exhausted. Aside from just being tired, I have body aches and neck cramps, and all I want to do is nap, eat something, smoke, and nap again. I noticed something very similar after a successful intercept in Meadville Pennsylvania last fall, but nowhere near this extent. Of course, I am now in my late 30's, rapidly closing in on 40, so that could have something to do with it, but I'm simply wondering if anyone else gets like this.

I have a good deal of work to do to my Chase Rig, including installation of a new VHF radio, moving my SiriusXM antenna, and performing basic maintenance, and I just can't get the motivation to go outside and do it.

This is strange to me.
 

R. Doan

Enthusiast
Apr 8, 2018
9
7
1
Westville Il
I´m 27, but I had a similar experience after the Taylorville-Stonington Illinois chase back in December. I never had the aches and pains, but certainly felt the exhaustion and excessive hunger after the chase was over. It´s always after, never before or during a chase, or even when I have multiple days of back to back chasing. I wonder if we sometimes get so locked in that we burn all of our energy through the anticipation and excitement. Not sure if this will help, but it has helped me so far this year. Maybe try to eat healthy and drink plenty of fluids before and during a chase. Grapes have turned into my go to. Great post by the way!
 
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Dan Robinson

Staff member
Jan 14, 2011
2,475
2,132
21
St. Louis
stormhighway.com
I no longer do the marathon drives (16+ hours) like I used to when I was younger, at least not without consequence. I'm now willing to spend the extra money to get a hotel to shorten days on the road to 16 hours or below. Chasing is so much more enjoyable with a good night's sleep. This has increased the costs of chase trips some, but it is worth it.

I also used to wake up very early to try and cram a chase plus the drive into one day (like a 3am departure from STL for a western Kansas chase). I now will leave the day before and get a hotel in Salina or something like that. Makes the next day go so much better.
 
Jun 16, 2015
449
990
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32
Oklahoma City, OK
quincyvagell.com
This may not be the issue, but after spending more and more hours/miles in the car over the past few years, I've learned that most car seats are not designed for proper back/neck support during longer drives. In fact, some car seats actually promote poor posture. I've resorted to a special travel pillow for lumbar, lower back support and it helps. Still, even longer drives can cause aches and pains. Chiropractors will recommend that you stop to stretch every 1-2 hours while driving, but that's not realistic for many of us chasers who will make 500+ mile drives, one way, just to get into position for a storm chase.
 
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Sep 7, 2013
545
354
21
Strasburg, CO
This may not be the issue, but after spending more and more hours/miles in the car over the past few years, I've learned that most car seats are not designed for proper back/neck support during longer drives. In fact, some car seats actually promote poor posture. I've resorted to a special travel pillow for lumbar, lower back support and it helps. Still, even longer drives can cause aches and pains. Chiropractors will recommend that you stop to stretch every 1-2 hours while driving, but that's not realistic for many of us chasers who will make 500+ mile drives, one way, just to get into position for a storm chase.
One of the reasons I bought the car I have now is due to comfort. I have a bad back so that was paramount. Its a different experience shopping for a car with comfort taking priority over looks or performance. So far so good.
 
Mar 21, 2004
1,494
92
11
Urbana, IL
skydrama.photography
So this may or may not be what you're experiencing, but over the last couple of years in getting a little older and trying to get more in tune with my body I've noticed how the actual stress of being near tornadoes is stored in my body during the chase, and then is released afterward once I let my guard down.

I have noticed that after recent local tornado days where I only chased for a matter of hours, but did intercept tornadoes, that once the storm is done and I finally put the car in park and stop at a gas station/restaurant that my body suddenly releases the stress that's been stored/accumulated in my body for the last few hours while actually chasing the tornadoes. My hands will tremble, body feels tight, and I'm almost jittery as if over-caffeinated. This can also lead to achy bones in my body, but I really do notice it more with literal body trembles in the couple of hours that follow the chase.

I don't excite easily and I like to think of myself as fairly well composed during the chase, my narration can be straight up boring at times, so I think it's just several hours of trying to remain calm and collected during what is at it's very base level, not a calm situation. That stuff is all stored in your body, and it's going to show itself in one form or another, and probably in different ways for everyone.

For me, the feeling dissipates after a few hours/after getting some sleep, so I don't know about having lasting impacts for a few days. That may be something else. But, everyone and every body is different.

Unrelated to that, like Dan, I am trying to do the marathon drives from IL to the plains less and less. I don't do it alone at all anymore. I do from time to time pull the "leave before sunrise and chase the next day" move, but only with multiple potential drivers and we have been smart enough to abort a late-night drive home before understanding that none of us were in any condition to drive.

The cost of a hotel room is worth it to come home to my wife and kid the next morning.

It's important to take care of our bodies out there. We're not going to be thinking "self-care" during the tornadoes, so do what you can to have yourself in good shape before the day gets going. Get rest. Eat a good breakfast and a big lunch. Drink lots of water. Have a healthy-ish snack and some water to keep you going during the chase.

It's becoming more common knowledge, but driving tired is just as dangerous as driving drunk. I don't want to be navigating around supercells surrounded by folks who share the driving ability of my drunk uncle.
 

Natalie Downing

Enthusiast
Apr 7, 2019
2
0
1
Oklahoma City, OK
I ran into something rather unique after a successful intercept in Shelby Ohio on Sunday. I am simply exhausted. Aside from just being tired, I have body aches and neck cramps, and all I want to do is nap, eat something, smoke, and nap again. I noticed something very similar after a successful intercept in Meadville Pennsylvania last fall, but nowhere near this extent. Of course, I am now in my late 30's, rapidly closing in on 40, so that could have something to do with it, but I'm simply wondering if anyone else gets like this.

I have a good deal of work to do to my Chase Rig, including installation of a new VHF radio, moving my SiriusXM antenna, and performing basic maintenance, and I just can't get the motivation to go outside and do it.

This is strange to me.
As a provider this can be totally normal. It's a high stress environment and your body is craving the rest and coming off the adrenaline from the day before. I experience this every time. The neck and body cramps can be from driving, dehydration while on the road, and constant looking at radar etc. if you are not the driver. It's basically the same as coming off a high from any other substance. However, not knowing your overall health state I always advise to get checked out if you are concerned. Just so that you know though...I feel the exact same sans the smoking. I hope this helps.
 
Oct 4, 2006
209
20
11
Oologah, Ok.
What about post-season fatigue? I don't travel out of coverage area but once or twice a year so I spend most of my time local chasing for media and reporting to our local NWS office via amateur radio. After multiple chases along with my workload here at work, I am exhausted as of today. I think they are at 41 and counting-the number of confirmed tornado reports in the last 10 days in the Tulsa DMA/CWA. How we escaped the past week without a major devastating tornado I don't know, but the flooding impacts alone have seriously taxed pretty much everyone.
 
Thank God for crack and vodka. Just kidding. After 32 years of chasing, I’m still kicking, with one “deep strike” day this year, of 600 miles. My suggestions are: Stay fit. I work out at least 5 days a week including a lot of cardio. If you think tornado chasing is bad, hurricane chasing is 5x. I try to get at least 7 hours sleep. Take frequent breaks while driving. Don’t overdo energy drinks and don’t drink them after 3:00 PM or your sleep will be disrupted. I prefer 5-hour Energy type drinks as they don’t fill your bladder. Use lower back support even if you do not have a bad back as it reduces fatigue. Adjust the seat to reduce fatigue. Use good sunglasses to avoid eye strain and use a saline eye wash, not eye drops, to reduce eye strain. Don’t forget fluids, especially water. Eat good food! Eating too much junk and / carbs will cause fatigue.
 
Aug 9, 2012
347
576
21
Galesburg, IL
www.facebook.com
I'm exhausted after chasing 7 out of the 9 day stretch. I managed to visual several tornadoes, mostly either weak, brief, or rainwrapped. The only regret I have is sitting out 5/28, but my health had gone so far downhill that I just elected for a closer to home target (a theme I'm sick of). I'm exhausted and kinda starting to burn out after all the events of this season both personal/chase related. I know quite a few other people are feeling the same way. This season hasn't gone great for myself and a lot of people. Hoping June/July pick up the slack, but I have to go back to work soon. The only thing that helps me is looking back at my past successes and keep forging ahead.
 
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May 22, 2007
132
40
6
Mesa Arizona
For me when I leave to chase, My co-workers, friends and Facebook followers all know I am going. It puts a lot of under lying stress on me to get that tornado. Once I see and photograph that first twister, I have a huge sense of relief come over me. After that I can relax and enjoy the trip. I have noticed it does take a toll.