Marathon runner, Dave Phillips, left a review of our PH 1500s to hail the fact that using a stronger sodium-based electrolyte drink had helped him overcome his issues with cramp.

"I can’t recommend PF&H enough – for me, I feel like it’s ‘unlocked’ the training that I’ve been putting in over the years, and allowed me to tap into that, when previously I couldn’t."

We reached out to the 50-year-old to find out how refining his training regime and his hydration strategy have helped him nail personal bests over the marathon distance...

Hi Dave, thanks for the review! First up, can you tell us when you suffered your first cramping episode?

I started running specifically to train for a half marathon. I was a bit of a beginner so my training was very haphazard; I think probably the longest run I did was around 10 miles - no speed work, maybe a few hills.

I was fueled by jelly babies and water. In the race itself, I can remember being at 9-10 miles and loving life! About a mile later I definitely wasn't! It was a combination of factors as I wasn't really fit enough, I didn't fuel properly, I didn't use electrolytes, and I started cramping in my calves.

After this experience, I ran a couple of half marathons and two marathons. I did some higher mileage in training for those, and I did start using gels and carry water. It did help but I'd still really struggle with cramping at the end of training runs, and often feel pretty rubbish after.

Looking back at my training log on Strava, I was running around 2-3 hours per week, but not really long enough to get cramping. The issues came when I tried to increase mileage. Anything over 1 hour and 40 minutes became an issue.

My two marathons were really just about getting round - but both were slower (4 hour 45 minutes) then my times at shorter distances indicated that I could potentially run.

Now cramping can have different causes for different people. What methods have you tried to overcome your issues?

At various times, I've tried pretty much every possibly solution!

But I think I've come to realise that there's 'thinking' you're doing something and actually doing it. Stretching as an example, a few token stretches and you've ticked off the stretching bit in your mind.

I've managed to increase my mileage over the years and this is where increased focus on fueling and hydration has helped - I perform better in training and can recover better. I'm running around 7-8 hours per week at the moment.

And how has increasing your training and refining your hydration strategy helped your performance?

Having tried off-the-shelf gels from supermarkets without great success in the past, I found the PF&H website when training for a marathon in late 2022.

I used the Fuel & Hydration Planner and increased my use of gels, and I also started drinking electrolytes. I found that my performance increased, although it did help that the marathon was in December when it was cooler as I have a very high sweat rate!   

I ended up running a PR of 4 hours and 13 minutes, using the Electrolyte Capsules, with no 'hitting the wall' after ~18 miles like I'd done previously.

I then signed up for the 2023 Manchester Marathon.

I started to try out the PF 30 Gels and PF 30 Caffeine Gels. I found I was able to take way more gels during training runs than I would normally, and I saw a big improvement again in speed endurance.

I then started preloading before big sessions by adding the PH 1500 electrolytes to my pre-run plan, and I then started using the PF Carb & Electrolyte Energy Drink Mix during longer runs too.

During the training block, I improved my 5k, 10k, 30k and 20-mile times - I do attribute that to both my improved training regime and my fuelling for it. I then ran another PR of 4:03 in Manchester.

An elusive sub-four hour marathon is my next goal...

Superb, thanks Dave! Good luck with nailing that sub-four next time