At one point in Meb Keflezighi’s career, people wondered if he was too old to compete. Now the 39-year-old runner will return to the Boston Marathon next week as the defending champion.

As the first American man to win in Boston since 1983, Keflezighi’s popularity in the United States skyrocketed after the 2014 race. Keflezighi recently told For The Win’s Nina Mandell that he’s now approached daily by people looking to improve their own running, and in turn, that fuels his career.

“I get inspired to get the best out of myself, so when people are struggling to break four and a half hours or five hours, I feel very fortunate they have my back,” Keflezighi said. “So I can still push the envelope for as long as I can with my age to get the best out of myself.”

Keflezighi still plans to push the envelope for a couple more years, too. His reasoning is so his youngest daughter, who was too young to remember the 2012 London Olympics, can see him compete in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

“That’s my motivation,” Keflezighi said. “(In) 2016 and 2017, I’m going to retire. I’m going to retire from competitive marathons.”

Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images